Learn 7 Sweet Piano Chords

piano chordsHey everybody! To celebrate the launch of my jazz instructional DVD “The Jazz Masters Method” (on Monday, October 8th 2012). 

I wanted to share a quick free piano lesson with you guys before the release. :)

(Update: The DVD has been released!! You can get access to the 9 jazz masters right here The Jazz Masters Method DVD )

The DVD is full exploration of the chords, licks, and playing concepts of 9 legendary jazz piano players:

Barry Harris, Bud Powell, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Ray Charles, Red Garland, Diana Krall, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock.

I’m excited to showcase the playing of these true jazz piano legends starting on Monday October 8th 2012! (Check back on the site this Monday for special limited bonuses).

……………

Ok, on to our free lesson….

So, in today’s piano lesson we’re going to take a really deep look at 7 very sweet jazz piano chords. (video piano lesson, notation, and tips below.)

The very cool part of this lesson is that every jazz piano chord we learn will feature C triad somewhere within it.

Don’t underestimate this lesson though. There are some powerful chords in here!

I wanted to show how you could take a simple concept that almost everybody is already familiar with and turn it into several very beautiful and rich sounding chords.

I suggest you watch the video first to get started and then scroll down for the notation and additional tips. 

The 7 Sweet Piano Chords Notation

piano chords

(click to expand)

7 Tips To Help You Learn These Piano Chords

1.  Every chord features a plain old C major chord as part of it. By adding notes below this C major chord we create a much larger jazz chord.

2. Many of these chords in this lesson are considered upper structure triads (or UST for short).

  • The basic concept behind an upper structure triad is simple. Take a major or minor triad and use it as an upper extensions of a jazz chord.
  • So, for example you could start with a Dminor chord (D F A). This would be the 1, b3, and 5th of this chord.
  • If we add a C triad on top (C E G) these notes would be the b7, 9, and 11th of our D minor chord. We would call this big chord a Dmin7(11,9) or a D min11 chord.
  • If you’re confused you can check out the notation for this chord right above. I also explain it step by step on the video above. :)

3. If you want to see some upper structure triads in action check out the Here’s That Rainy Day piano lesson .

I use a bunch of upper structure triads in that jazz piano arrangement

4. Whenever you’re learning new chords I suggest you take each voicing through all 12 keys. It really helps you nail the theory, the sound, and the tactile memory of each chord.

5. In order to best learn these chords I also suggest you apply them to your favorite jazz standard or even a really common jazz chord progression like a II-V-I.

You could even apply many them to many of the chords on Autumn Leaves.

6. Notice how even though we start with a major triad the larger chords we built are a mix of major, minor and dominant chords.

So, a simple major chords can expand into much richer possibilities.

7. If you enjoy the sound of these chords then you should also check out more of the jazz chord lessons on this site.

Question For You

Before we end this lesson I’d like to ask you as a guest or member of our jazz community here. What’s your favorite chord from this lesson? How will you use these chords in your music?

Please leave a comment below and let us know. I look forward to responses! Happy practicing. :)

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Steve Nixon is the proud owner of Freejazzlessons.com. He is a world touring jazz and blues keyboard player and educator.

Steve is the author of Premium Jazz Lessons Elite Membership (A comprehensive all-in-one online jazz piano course.)

He is also the author of the The Jazz Masters Method DVD (A study of 9 legendary jazz piano players).

If you are a blues piano fan you can also check out his popular Learn Blues Piano DVD Course.

His brand new course \”The Christmas Jazz Piano Super System\” will be released on Monday November 3rd, 2014.



  • Mr. Fire and Ice

    Hey Thanks Steve! :) This makes allot of sense. Who would have thought a simple Triad can hold so much power!….never underestimate ….the Triad! LOL

    • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      My pleasure! Every sound in music can be quite powerful if used the right way! :)

  • d2thweb

    Thank you! Takes some of the mystery out of music theory and gives me a whole lot on which I can build thru experimentation at my own pace. I will buy the new offering although it may be a bit beyond me… if it is, I’ll let you know so that you can put out more primary level for those of us who may need it. I’m buying anyway! …..d2thweb

    • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      Thank you so much for your kind words and happy to hear you’re learning! I look forward to sharing music with you too through the Jazz Masters Method DVD :)

  • Wilson

    I have a hard time keeping up when you do the” so you can do this ” portions. They sound so awesome that i want to follow along!

    • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      Thanks Wilson :) Just take 1 chord at a time and rewind..as many times as you need to.

  • Jude

    I liked that clustery sound of Bb7#11. It’s so great to know you can use these to embellish all the easy tunes. All of this site is so great!

    • http://www.freejazzlessons.com/ Steve Nixon (freejazzlessons)

      Thanks Jude. I like that chord too :)